My first-born face

Chris Washer's picture

Hello people, I have just begun a course called "Digital Type" where I study. I have begun to create a typeface originally designed around the form of the numeral "2". This typeface has been created from scratch in three days, and I THINK it is going well, but I would deeply appreciate any critique you can give me.

It was initially quite neoteric, a hard sans-serif. The spine (?) of the 2 reminded me of an art-nouveau style and I pursued that for a while. I became unsatisfied with its legibility and removed some elements of this "art nouveau" styling. I added some serifs and this is where I guess it is heading. It has all been very intuitive and based on a poor base-knowledge of typeface design.

I intend to change the proportions of the O; next to the P it obviously doesn't work. I guess the art nouveau style will eventually completely dissapear in favour of legibility and unity. the perfect-circle O was inspired by art nouveau, but I have no particular reason to keep the style; it was just a stepping stone.

Sorry for my post length.

Shoot it to bits and i'll glue it back together in a better way.

j_p_giese's picture

Hi Christopher,

this is not a bad start at all.

Some first impressions and quick ideas:

Where crossbars meet a stem (and anywhere else where two "pen strokes" come together under a sharp angle), ink traps are often a good feature to add in order to make a too heavy or "black" portion of a character optically lighter (if you don't know what an ink trap is, Google will easily find you an explanation).

In your typeface, this mainly, but not exclusively, concerns the A and H.

Compare, for instance, the A to the O. The A looks a tad heavier than the O, although stroke widths may be the same. This could be (at least partially) corrected by adding an ink trap in the appropriate place.

Possibly the O Q D G bowls could use a tiny bit more weight.

You surely are aware that, especially in typography, geometrical symmetry and measurements rarely equal optical symmetry and measurement and only the visual appearance of a character is of interest to the typographer.

The bowls of you B, for instance, have the same dimensions, but the upper bowl appears to be both too high and long, disequilibrating the characters appearance. The B is top heavy and slightly tends to tip over to the right.

The upper arm of your K seems to reach out a bit too far to the right.

If you decide to retouch it anyway, you'd be able to judge more easily if the K should really be wider than the R with which it shares the "lower limbs".

The horizontal symmetry in the D and C works uncommonly well in this typeface.

The D's belly (which seems to be an exact copy of the C O Q bowl) looks almost a bit too pointy to me.

About the same applies to the top/right heavy S.

Besides that, the S lacks the typical features of the typeface and doesn't fit in very well. Look at your C and copy these spurs to the S.

Round letters (C G O Q S in your typeface) tend to look too small when designed exactly as tall as the rest of the alphabet. The reason for this is, simply put, that a circle touches a tangent only in an infinitely small spot which has an effect on how tall we see a character. To compensate for this, the O, for instance, is often designed to reach over the lower and upper character grid line.

The same is often true for pointed letters like A V W, where also few "optical mass" is near the lower or upper grid line. This does not apply to your typeface, though, since it features extended flat apices.

I think the upper bar of the F and the T bar are a bit short.

The Q tail shows a clearly more open and fluent and "forward" character than the nice sturdy legs of the R and K and I'm not sure whether that fits well together. Maybe try something like the R/K leg as the Q tail.

I don't think that the O and P look bad next to each other.

If you decide to keep the Art Nouveau touch and the quite special E F H, you might want to try to copy the A crossbar to the B (and R and even K and P).

More could be said, but I leave that to others. :-)

Keep working on that typeface.

See you

PS: Maybe show us a small passage of text set in your typeface. I find it easier to judge a font in real use.

j_p_giese's picture

Ugh. These are wearying to read long lines of text (a known issue in many forums). The line lenght corresponds with the dimension of the widest graphic in a thread. If you could post a graphic only 500 or 600 or so pixels wide the next time, the lines of surrounding text would be shorter and more comfortable to read.

PS @ all: Temporarily blinding out graphics in your browser helps enormously! Of course it's not exactly the best of all imaginable solutions in a forum where text and graphic are so closely related.

PPS @ Christopher: A type specimen is best viewed in PDF format.

Chris Washer's picture

<font class="dontLookLikeCrap">jpg,

Thanks heaps for the critique! The S is a particularly problematic glyph for the inexperienced. I should have mentioned that I have not yet made optical adjustments; I am trying to establish the base structure of the typeface. The R, B, K, and P used to use the curve crossbar form in their arms, legs and er... other limbs. However, all the curves everywhere created a wierd wobbly visual pathway. It was just for legibilitiy reasons I removed them.

That being said, I do believe it will become a display face as I have no time to produce a lower-case. Therefore, I think it is important n hindsight to retain those parts that give it it's character.

Sorry about the image width, that really was clumsy of me. I have seen a really great shockwave viewer somebody used for their typeface, and will probably create something similar with zooming and panning features... I'll definitely explore PDF as well.

Thanks twice for the help; I think I am the only student here really pursuing the creation of typefaces, and you probably know how tutors have little time out of class.

Well, I have alot of work to do now!

- Chris</font>

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